My kids say a lot of stuff. Relevant, irrelevant, insightful, nonsense—it comes pouring out of their little mouths in a near-constant stream.
They sing. They make up poems. They fight. They bully. They plead for just one more show. They tell me they love me, and when I say the same to them, they say, “We know. We know. You tell us all the time!” They ask for chocolate before I’ve even finished telling them they can’t have any ice cream, and then they ask for ice cream again while I’m starting to address the chocolate issue.
And they terrify.
We used to live near a cemetery. We still do, actually, but we used to live closer, within easy walking distance of this 9-acre stretch of grass studded with headstones. We treated it a bit like a park, because—hey—it’s a 9-acre stretch of grass. Sure, there are no slides, but there’s plenty of room to run.
One day, when my firstborn was about 3 years old, we’d just finished walking around the manicured lawns and were on our way out of the gate when she stopped, turned around, waved, and shouted a cheery, “Bye!”
We were alone in the cemetery that afternoon.
“Who are you talking to?” my wife asked.
“Those kids,” my daughter said, pointing at not any kids.
Out of curiosity, I jogged over to the empty air she had apparently befriended to see what the ground beneath it had to say. The little plaques set into the dirt were all for children. I was standing on the site of either a supernatural playdate or the creepiest place ever to coincidentally conjure up some imaginary friends.
My daughter couldn’t read yet. She didn’t understand the short spans indicated by the two dates on the slabs. But she associated that section with children anyway. And she waved.
I’m reserving Fridays in the Shallows for the freaky stuff of parenting. Or at least the freaky stuff I encounter in my parenting. Many times, quotes taken out of context sound like lines from some non-dome-related Stephen King tale, but—as with today’s cartoon—I’m almost just as likely to hear something isolated that makes me laugh at first, and then lie awake at night.
I’m joking. Mostly.
My oldest daughter, in particular, seems to have a knack for peppering her personal monologues with the macabre. She’s fascinated by predators and bones, scary stories and mounting tension. I can tell that she already has a tendency toward the grisly. And the spooky. Because why was she thinking about her skin peeling off? And why would her boots matter at that point?
She’s probably just messing with me.
Are your kids inordinately interested in death and destruction? How about you?